Discover the World of Leather
Created by professor on 3/10/2011 12:42:51 PM

An introduction to leatherworking in the Atlanta area.

Tandy Leather CompanyAnyone that is anyone knows that Leather is one of the most popular materials in a great steampunk outfit. And the Tandy Leather Factory is THE place to go in Georgia for all things leather.

Nestled in a tiny strip-mall near the intersection of North Parkway and Lawrenceville Hwy is the Mecca for anything dealing with leather work. The Tandy Leather Factory has been in business at that location for about 8 years but the company is national and has been in business since 1919!  The current Manager in Training, Chuck Dorsett, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about the business of leather. Chuck has over 20 years as a leatherworker and specializes in medieval-style armor.

“We get all sorts of people in here: professional saddle makers, upholstery companies, belt and holster makers. You name it and someone makes it. We have a program with the Veterans Administration where they use small kits for simple leather products such as wallets, cell phone holsters, or even book covers. Assembling and decorating a kit allows an individual to express their own creativity and helps rebuild fine motor skills that have been lost.  We also do the same thing with younger kids. There is nothing like a handmade leather gift. And the kits start at $5 and go as high as $80 for the complex pieces. There is literally something for everyone.”

When you first walk into the shop, it hits you immediately how much choice there is there. Literally hundreds of decorative pieces called “conchos” adorn an entire wall of the facility. The center is full of tables of every type of raw leather product you can imagine from suede to the traditional Holstein cow-hide Tandy Leather Companypieces. Every conceivable leatherworking accessory and tool is available here as well. There is a wall of patterns and design books on every aspect of leather working.  It’s all there.  And if you can't find it yourself, just ask one of the friendly employees, like Amber Ivey, and they are quick to help you find it. All the employees share the love of leatherworking themselves. Amber herself created some lovely steampunk themed holsters for a friend's wedding. “I mainly focus on LARP equipment. Armor and accessories and such. But I was really intrigued with the steampunk genre and I was happy to get a chance to design and create something in that area.”

There are a few samples of the personal works of the employees in the store to serve as encouragement and give an example of what you can accomplish with some dedication to the craft. For the creative maker, you can get a quick start by building your own belt and holster. Belt “blanks” provide the canvas for you to express your inner steampunk. And several holster kits provide a great starting point. Just add your own choices of decorative pieces, texture stamps and some dyes for an authentic steampunk look.

Starting the weekend of Feb 26h, Tandy is hosting Saturday leatherworking classes in the actual store. John Doe, the president of the Georgia Leather Workers Guild, will be the instructor. The cost includes a introductory kit which provides tools, dyes and several complete leather kits. This package was designed for the beginner and assumes zero experience. Through the classes you'll get the opportunity to get a hands-on introduction to the hobby. You can bet that I'll be sitting in on some of those classes for sure.

For the aspiring steampunk crafter, Tandy Leather Factor is the perfect place to come to get started in the area of leatherworking. And in the words of Chuck, “Leatherworking is a lifelong hobby with limitless potential. It will nuture your creativity and bring hours of joy.”

You can find more info on the Tandy Leather Factory on the web at

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